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High School Team Preview:
Compton Centennial High--(Oct. 13, 1998)

There are three high schools in the Compton Unified School District, not two, as most people might assume.  Compton High and Compton Dominguez seem to get all of the ink and publicity, but there's a third school which is just getting itself back on the map in high school basketball, Compton Centennial High, located at Central & El Segundo, just a few miles down the road from Verbum Dei.   The other two Compton schools have slightly larger enrollments, compete in CIF Division II, and are classically known as dominant basketball powers, producing many Division I stars, and even a few big-time NBA players like Cedric Ceballos (who attended Dominguez).

In contrast, Compton Centennial competes in the CIF Southern Section at Division III-A, which is still pretty competitive, but you'd have to think back quite a way to recall the last NBA or Division I player to come out of Centennial.   But Dominic Street, who is the new first year coach at Compton Centennial is trying to change all that.  And he's off to a pretty good start, as one of his players, Marquis Poole (6'-2" Sr. PG) has just given a verbal commitment to Washington State.

Dominic is a soft-spoken guy, who attended Cal State Dominguez Hills where he received a degree in Physical Education. He attended Carson High, where he played for two years, then transferred for his senior year to Artesia where he played for coach Acker (Wayne Merino's predecessor). He then transferred back to Carson where he graduated.   Over the years he had gotten to know Rod Palmer, the head coach at Compton, fairly well, and 6 years ago, Palmer asked Street if he'd be interested in an assistant coaching spot on the Compton bench.  Dominic grabbed it, and he's   been coaching ever since. He was an assistant at Compton High for the last 5 years, and this summer came to Centennial.  "I think I was always interested in athletics. My father and our family was always playing sports, and so coaching for me was just a kind of natural progression."   Dominic is single,  and at the present has no plans to move into coaching at the college level. "High School ball is just fine for me, at least for the time being," Dominic told us. "I really want to make this program a success and see more of our guys get college basketball scholarships."

Last year's Centennial team was extremely competitive, and they  made it into the CIF Southern Section playoffs as the No. 2 seed in Region I of Division III-A. In the first round, they easily defeated Ganesha,   86- 54, as then-senior guard Arturo Jones scored a game-high 20 points and then-juniors Marquis Poole and Steven Sims added 16 and 15 points, respectively.   Centennial got as far as the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division III-A playoffs, but they had the misfortune of running into West Hills Chaminade, which beat them by 30 points, 69-39.  Centennial finished the year at 19-9, a very successful season.

This season, Centennial will play in the reconfigured Bay League, which picks up about half the teams in the Ocean League (we're still trying to confirm the reconfigured status of all these teams) and while we're not sure of all the teams playing in Bay League, Dominic tells us it's a 14 game league for each of the teams. We're pretty certain that it will feature Inglewood, Redondo Union, Peninsula, Mira Costa, Morningside, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Compton Centennial.   This is one very tough league, and it will be interesting to see how Centennial fares this year, especially because there are not many seniors returning to this squad.

Here's the team:

Marquis Poole (6'-2" Sr. PG/SG)
Steve Sims (6'-6" Sr. SG)
Lawrence Smith (5'-10" Sr. SG/PG)
Michael Williams (6'-3" Sr. SG/SF)
Harold Harper (5'-11" Jr. SG/SF)
Tyrone Lewis (6'-0" Jr. SF/PF)
Lee Abair (6'-1" Fr. SF/SG)
Tyrone Lewis (6'-0" Jr. SF/PF)
Clifford Skannal (5'-11" Jr. SG/SF)
Gregory Goodin (5'-10" Jr. PG/SG)
Daveon Cole (6'-4" So. PF/C)
Keiwan Williams (5'-11" Sr. F)
Keith Robinson (5'-9" Sr. G)
Donny Joubert (6'-0" Jr. F)

As you can see, in comparison to some of the other teams they'll be facing, this is not an especially tall team, but it does have solid players at all the positions.

Leading the way are Poole and Sims, the two big-scoring returning seniors from last year's varsity. Smith and Williams also return from the varsity, but everyone else is new. Poole just verballed to Washington State and he'll handle the duties at the point this season. He's a quick and agile point with a great handle, who can shoot the lights out.  Steve Sims will join him in the backcourt, and a 6'-6" there aren't many shooting guards in SoCal who can match his size.  "Steve is a major sleeper right now," coach Street told us. "Steve didn't make it to many of the camps, and as a result, no one really knows about him. He's getting some limited attention, but by the end of the season, lots of schools will be looking at him."  Right now, Sims could go to just about anywhere he wants academically, as he's got a 3.75 GPA, is taking some AP classes, and has about 1100 on the SAT.  With this guy's ability to shoot and his size, someone will surely latch onto him sooner rather than later.

Lawrence Smith is also a returning varsity player, but last season he didn't see much time, and this year, in a three guard rotation, expect to see Smith either alternating at the point, or out on the wing. He's got a good handle and a decent shot, and is a capable defender.   At the three spot, look for Michael Williams, a very athletic rebounder, with some solid post moves and a nice turnaround jumper.

After these guys, it's really anyone's guess at the moment who will see significant playing time, as most of the players are up from the jv's or have transferred in and are as-yet untested.  Harold Harper is going to probably play a lot at the three spot, notwithstanding his height, and he has very quick feet and hands, a strong body, and can jump out of the gym.  Tyrone is also going to play the three/four spot,m and he's a very good rebounder too, always on the ball, and is very athletic.  Abair, is young but fundamentally sound, with a decent handle and very good speed and quickness, and surprisingly good foot positioning on his shot for a freshman.  Clifford Skannel, is a very strong, hardworking player, and his game is steadily improving, and we'd expect him to compete at the swing position along with Lewis and Mike Williams, and Keiwan Williams.  Goodin may also see some significant minutes at the point, and he's got a great handle and excellent court vision, but Dominic says it will take some time for him to get a more structured game, and "lose the street-ball stuff."  Daveon Cole will hand the center post spot with Donny Joubert; Daveon (pronounced "Davy-on") has just "tons of raw talent," according to Dominic, and by the time he's a senior he should be about 6'-7" or so and a huge division I prospect.  Daveon is a great leaper, with good post moves and a decent drop-step to the basket already, while Donny is strong, and has a powerful game within 5' of the basket.  Keiwan and Robinson are good defensive players, and while they cover different spots on the court, Keiwan being a great rebounder and a very hardworking defender, Robinson is a combo guard who may vie for time at either the point or two spot.

Compton Centennial will participate in three tournaments in December: First they'll attend the Fresno Buchanan High Tournament from December 2-5, and then they'll come back to SoCal and participate in the Valencia Tournament from December 14-19 as they did last year.  Finally, Centennial will be at the Best in the West Tournament, hosted by Artesia and Wayne Merino, which will take place in Long Beach from December 26-31.

This is an exciting young team, with a couple of demonstrated veteran star-quality players, and at least two Division I prospects from this year's class, and more on the way. Look for Compton Centennial to become more than just the "other" Compton school when it comes to basketball in SoCal.   We'll be watching too.


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